They are touted as a healthy alternative to traditional meat patties.
Yet some vegan burgers contain up to 10 times the amount of saturated fats found in their carnivore-friendly counterparts.
The shock discovery undermines the purported benefits of a plant-based diet and runs contrary to advice from NHS England, which urges people to avoid the cholesterol-raising fats.
Frequently found in butter, lard and cheeses, saturated fat is closely linked to an increased risk of heart and circulatory disease.
Ranked: The vegan Tesco Beyond Burger, which is also served at All Bar One (top left) has 5g of saturated fat, ALDI’s Meat Free Butcher’s (top middle) contains 15g and Iceland’s No Bull (top right) has 1.6g. Meanwhile, a meaty McDonald’s Big Mac (bottom left) has 9.5g, a Bird’s Eye Original (bottom middle) has 2.7g and a McDonald’s Hamburger (bottom right) has 3.3g
According to a report by The Mirror, one of the worst offenders is The Moving Mountains B12 burger, sold at Marston’s pubs and other outlets.
That alone has 20g saturated fat when uncooked – a woman’s entire recommended daily limit and two-thirds of a man’s 30g.
The Meat Free Butcher burger, sold by Aldi, contains 15g of saturated fat in each portion. That’s 75 per cent of a woman’s daily allowance.
Tesco’s Beyond Burger, which is also available at All Bar One, fares slightly better with 5g saturated fat, but this is still more than leading meat versions.
In comparison, a McDonald’s Big Mac – one of the chain’s most popular products – contains 9.5g, while their classic hamburger has just 3.3g.
The Bird’s Eye Original Beef Burger has just 2.7grams.
Meanwhile, the No Bull vegan burger, from Iceland, contains 1.6g saturated fat but also packs 5.8g of sugar – one sixth of the 37.5g recommended daily allowance.
Fatty: The Moving Mountains burger (pictured) contains 20g saturated fat when uncooked – a woman’s entire recommended daily limit and two-thirds of men’s 30g
Vegan: The Meat Free Butcher burger, by Aldi, contains 15g of saturated fat in each portion
Sweet: Iceland’s No Bull vegan burger may contain just 1.6g of saturated fat, but also has sugar
One explanation for the high saturated fat content in vegan food is the use of coconut oils, which are renowned for being fatty.
Fortunately, the quantity that’s present often reduces when cooked.
Simeon Van der Molen, CEO of Moving Mountains told MailOnline: ‘The nutritional information for the Big Mac is based on cooked nutritionals whereas those for the Moving Mountains burger are raw nutritionals.
‘Cooked nutritionals will always have less fat content than raw nutritional values as it doesn’t take into account the changes to fat content during the cooking process and the majority of fat that is drained away during this time – therefore the comparison of saturated fat content between cooked and raw nutritionals is completely inaccurate.’
Comparison: Tesco’s Beyond Burger fares slightly better with 5g saturated fat, but this is still more than some leading meat versions, such as Bird’s Eye’s Original Beef Burger
Healthy? One explanation for the high saturated fat content in vegan food such as burgers is the use of coconut oils, which are renowned for it
Fiona Hunter, Nutritionist at Healthspan, told MailOnline: ‘The results are quite shocking but not surprising because a lot of ready prepared vegan foods use coconut oil which is high in saturated fat.
‘Saturated fat can increase cholesterol which in return raises the risk of heart disease.
‘People often assume that vegetarian and vegan foods are automatically healthier, but it’s not always the case.
‘These can be high in calories, saturated fats and salt, so I would advise people always read the nutrition panel on the pack.
‘My advice whatever type of diet you follow my advice, would be to cook as much as you can from scratch rather than relying on ready prepared foods because when you make something yourself you know exactly what has gone into it and you have complete control over the ingredients.’
A 2017 study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found those who ate a vegan diet high in sugar and processed foods were 32 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than meat-eaters.
Bun fight: A McDonald’s Big Mac – one of the chain’s most popular products – contains 9.5g
WHAT IS A VEGAN DIET AND HOW HAS IT BECOME MORE POPULAR?
A vegan diet contains only plants (such as vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits) and foods made from plants. Vegans don’t eat foods that come from animals, including dairy products and eggs.
Vegans normally chose this diet for animal welfare, health and environment motivations.
One in eight Britons are now vegetarian or vegan, and a further 21 per cent say they are flexitarian – where meat is occasionally eaten, according to a 2018 report from Waitrose.
Miley Cyrus, Sia, Ariana Grande, Liam Hemsworth, Robbie Williams and many athletes are all backing the diet.
Campaigners behind Veganuary have also called on politicians to support a Plant-Based Parliament for January 2020, with many MPs showing their support already.
Supermarkets and fast-food chains are keeping up – Sainsbury’s added 29 new vegan products to its shelves, taking the total to over 100. Waitrose, Tesco and Iceland are stocking ‘fishless’ fingers, meat-free sausages and burgers, and even vegan versions of ready-meals such as lasagne.
Bakery chain Greggs made headlines in January 2019 with its new vegan sausage roll, but other chains, such as Pizza Express, TGI Fridays and Wagamamas were already ahead of the game.
The NHS says you can still get all the nutrients you need from eating a varied and balanced vegan diet.
To make sure you stay health you should:
- Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates (choose wholegrain where possible)
- Have some dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts (choose lower fat and lower sugar options)
- Eat some beans, pulses and other proteins
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat in small amounts
- Drink plenty of fluids (the government recommends 6 to 8 cups or glasses a day)
Vegans need to be careful that they are getting enough calcium, vitamin D, iron, omega-3 and B12.
B12 is only found naturally in foods from animal sources. Sources for vegans are therefore limited and a vitamin B12 supplement may be needed, such as fortified products.